Tottenham's only senior striker, Jermain Defoe, was clamoring all summer for his chance to start, and it seems Spurs' newest manager Andre Villas-Boas was listening.
In the club's opening match against Newcastle United, Defoe was given a full 90 minutes on the pitch—something former manager Harry Redknapp allowed just nine times last season.
Villas-Boas' betting on Defoe paid off well. He didn't make anything of several good chances in the first half, hitting the woodwork in the first half and fumbling several passes fed to him in Newcastle's third of the pitch.
But Defoe stayed hungry, scoring an equalizer for Tottenham in the 76th minute.
If not for clumsy challenges from Aaron Lennon and Rafael van der Vaart that gave Newcastle a penalty kick just minutes later, Defoe would have been the hero for the week in north London.
Instead, Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa was given a penalty in the 80th minute, one he easily converted.
The final score rested at 2-1 in favor of Newcastle, but many in north London were left to wonder what would happen if Villas-Boas had more than Jermain Defoe to draw on in terms of a striker. Would an additional forward have provided a different result for Tottenham?
I think the answer is a resounding, "Yes!"
Villas-Boas seems to share that sentiment. According to TalkSport.co.uk, Tottenham's manager was quick to target what cost his club points in their debut match and what he's going to do about it:
"We are looking for a striker and maybe we can do it this week. If that is the case it will improve the quality of the team. It’s not for a lack of trying that we haven’t bought somebody else, hopefully we will try and conclude a deal this week.”
Many, including myself, thought it would be Luka Modric's absence that would hurt this Spurs team the most, and to an extent it did—Tottenham lost the possession game and shots on target were down a bit from last season's average.
But Gylfi Sigurdsson, and later Rafael van der Vaart, did a good enough job at feeding Defoe the ball that the gap wasn't wide enough to warrant much concern.
No, it was the lack of a second forward that left Spurs toothless for much of the match at St. James Park, and that's exactly why Chairman Daniel Levy needs to reach deep into his war chest to spring for a legitimate option at striker to play next to Defoe.
And who's that player going to be? I believe Tottenham needs to break the bank—or two!—and snatch up Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente as quickly as possible.
Besides being incredibly unhappy at Athletic Bilbao and, according to Goal.com, "not wanting to renew his contract with the club,he fits in perfectly with the new tactics and philosophy Villas-Boas is installing at White Hart Lane.
Llorente was made for teams where tactics are the key. Granted, many English managers in the Premiership are more apt to put their best 11 out there and let everything fly, but Villas-Boas is not one of them. His first match against Newcastle United showed he will continue to live and die by his tactics, as he did at Porto and Chelsea.
Tottenham won't win very many matches with just Defoe in at striker. He thrives when he's given a partner he can dump the ball off to or receive a last-second pass from on a counter-attack.
Llorente averaged a remarkable 0.53 goals per match last season. Defoe has the capability to do the same.
Snatch him up, Villas-Boas. Pay whatever is necessary to get Defoe the help he, and everyone else in north London, deserves.
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